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Going to Disney World with grandparents can be heartwarming. Christine from Treasured Family Travels described it best: your kids get to spend more time with their grandparents, while the grandparents get to see Disney through the eyes of their grandchildren. I have taken two trips to Disney World and one trip to Disneyland with grandparents in tow. While it is possible to have successful Disney trips with grandparents, it does requires some extra planning. So, to help you with that planning, I reached out to some other Disney bloggers for their advice on how to have memorable Disney trips with grandparents.
Tip #1: Split into groups.
Sara from Disney Park Princess suggests that the “key to a successful multi-generational family vacation is finding the balance between “together time” and “independent time.” Not everyone is going to have the same level of energy, physical ability, or level of interest. And that is okay! There is something for everyone at Walt Disney World.”
“Be sure to make plans that include time for different groups to break off and explore on their own. Whether you divide up by generation, or “thrill junkies” versus “relaxed riders”, breaking up into smaller groups gives everyone a chance to do something they like. And saves the rest from having to do things they aren’t interested in!”
Debbie at Reward Roaming echoes this tip. She says that to “keep everyone happy, remember that not everyone has to do everything together. Plan some whole group activities but allow people to split off into smaller groups for individual interests.”
Tip #2: Start or finish the day with a sit down meal together.
Disney Park Princess’ Sara also recommends starting and/or finishing the day with an advanced dining reservation (table service meal) for the entire family. “This will give you the chance to connect, share stories about your day, and plan what is next. And if you get to see some Disney characters while you dine, so much the better!”
Tip #3: Train before your trip.
I am a firm believer that you should train your kids to do lots of walking before heading to a Disney park. This is one of the secrets to going to Disney without a stroller. Likewise, you should make sure the grandparents prepare for all the walking before heading to Disney, especially if they are not very active at home. This simply means taking daily walks to build up their endurance. Each day, they should try to walk a little further than the day before. Don’t overdo it, but even 10 feet further than the day before will help. The goal should be to be able to walk for a full mile without stopping by the start of your trip. This will make the trip so much easier on them physically and allow them to have more fun with the grandkids.
Tip #4: Pay attention to the grandparents’ physical health.
Christine at Treasured Family Travels reminds us to pay attention to the health of the grandparents on your trip. She offers this word of advice: “grandma can’t do it all!” Christine rented an electric scooter at the parks so her mom wouldn’t need to walk for miles like the rest of the family did. It was definitely worth it so she could enjoy everything with them at an easier pace for her. I would second this suggestion if you are taking a grandparent who can’t walk as recommended above.
In addition, Christine warns to be wary about the heat. She always goes in November or December hoping to avoid hottest months. “You need to watch out for both your parents and your children by keeping everyone hydrated! The Florida sun can be scorching – don’t assume your parents knows this. With long, hot days, it’s important to be responsible for everyone in your party no matter the age.”
Kendra from Chaos & Castles agrees. She says that you should consider everyone’s needs with walking and waiting. Her dad’s knees make it uncomfortable for him to stand still or sit on the ground for long periods. When waiting for shows, she wishes she would have chosen locations were he could sit on something to make it a better experience.
Tip #5: Book accommodations that will allow everyone to have some space.
Debbie at Rewards Roaming once took a trip to Disney World with a group of 16 people spanning four generations. She explains that it is important that “your accommodations allow for both private and group space.” On her four generation trip, they were VERY fortunate and were upgraded to a suite at the Yacht club. They had one large room with a living area (that was the lighthouse that you see when walking by the hotel) as well as 4 individual guest rooms. This allowed for them all to gather after a long day and chat about their fun while those who needed a rest or just some quiet had access to that as well.
Tip #6: Designate a family planner.
Chaos & Castles’ Kendra suggests picking one family member to serve as the official trip planner. “This person should get a list of must dos for everyone and then put a plan together. They can make Fastpass and dining reservations for everyone. It will cut down on confusion and wasting time deciding what to do. ”
Tip #7: Plan frequent breaks.
Kendra at Chaos & Castles also recommends planning frequent breaks. “Don’t think you will just stop as needed, but actually plan in long, frequent breaks. This is a great time to try the many snacks Disney has. Everyone will be rested, refueled and ready to move on with the day. If you take your vacation slow and have a good plan, everyone will have an amazing time!”
Tip #8: Readjust your expectations.
A Disney trip with grandparents is going to be different than one with just parents and kids. Therefore, you will need to readjust your expectations. The first time we took my parents, I tried to show them everything. I ended up disappointed because I didn’t take into account that they couldn’t go as fast as we could. Go into the trip knowing that you will move slower and won’t get to do it all. Instead, focus on having fun doing a few special things and creating memories. You will find that your trip is so much better!
Disney trips with grandparents can be wonderful ways to create lasting memories for the whole family. But to be successful, they require some special planning. The above tips will help you to make the most of these precious trips. Thank you to the ladies who helped with the advice for this article. For more tips, see my secret to a great Disney trip and how to avoid meltdowns at Disney. Happy travels!